Health is everywhere: Unravelling the mystery of health
Health is everywhere: Unravelling the mystery of health

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Health is everywhere: Unravelling the mystery of health

1 Where is health?

1.1 Introduction

We have suggested that health is everywhere so let's put that to the test. It certainly seems that you cannot pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio or watch TV without sooner or later encountering a feature on health. We have been told by government that health is now ‘everybody’s business’ – it is no longer purely the preserve of health professionals. Health is also big business. It sells magazines and margarine – a whole range of products come with a health promise and one or two with a health warning.

Activity 1: Encounters with health

1 hour 0 minutes

Check how many encounters with health you have on one particular day. Don't agonise at this stage about the meaning of health. Count anything that you think comes broadly under the umbrella of health.

Note down the content and the context of the encounter, and also whether you found them likely or unlikely places to encounter health.


Here are two answers from OU students:

Student 1

I chose a Wednesday, as this is a typical day for me. The day began with my normal series of back exercises before my bath. These are so routine now that I would not have automatically associated them with health had it not been at the forefront of my mind. My beauty regime consisted of various lotions, aromatherapy products and even tooth-whitening toothpaste to give the appearance of good health. Breakfast consisted of a low-fat cereal, rich in vitamins for ‘health and vitality’. I had not previously noticed this, and had chosen it for its flavour not health value.

On the morning news on TV, the weather forecaster spoke of sunburn risks.

Driving to work, I grumbled to myself for having to park further away which meant further to walk to the office. I felt a twinge of guilt at my laziness: I could do with some healthy exercise. Had a chat with the receptionist: we discussed the smokers within our office complex, the smell and effects on our health. Discussed the noise and fumes from the building work and their effect on our general health.

Midmorning, the security guard popped in to ask for some health advice, as he had been feeling unwell and knows I am a nurse. Lunchtime still feeling guilty about not getting enough exercise, so walked up to the shopping centre.

Nursing journal arrived, full of health issues including debates on staffing issues, and stress and stress-related illness, as well as articles on disease and illness.

Student 2

I have chosen an off-duty day to undertake this activity (a Sunday).

Woke up, conscious of my diet prepared breakfast. First meal of the day Special K advertisement ringing in my ears (I had Weetabix!), after which I lit up my first cigarette of the day. A contradiction here: I am trying to be healthy and smoking at the same time. Conscious of this activity, I decided that I was tackling one issue at a time I finished the cigarette! (noticed the health warning).

Browsing through Bizarre Magazine, I came across an article about worldwide malpractice in medicine over the last 20 years. The stories related to issues such as amputating the wrong limb, minor injuries causing comatosed state, and a lack of hospital food. I didn't expect to read about it in this magazine but the article itself was Bizarre, as is the magazine. I was visited by my pregnant friend a natural healthy state for a woman complaining of nausea.

Browsing through catalogues I noted thin, fit models portraying the ‘picture of health’.

There were advertisements on TV about fitness machines, beauty products and health products.

I felt that out of all of the encounters that day, the magazine struck me as an unlikely place to encounter health.


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